I'm working on bench work now, but want plan for a busd line. I have read that 16 gauge stranded wire is best for the buss line and 18 gauge for drop downs. Also, I have several of the wired Lionel power tracks. Can they be wired directly into the buss line using suitcase connectors? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks Bill

Original Post

14 gauge stranded is probably more common for the buss spine.

yes, you can use suitcase connectors to attach 18g stranded stringers to that spine.

yes, the prewired lionel leads can be used

For our ever changing temporary and holiday layouts, I bundled 5 strands of 14 g together (each a diff color). with some velcro cinches. I then run 18 g stringers w suitcase connectors as needed. Each year, I try to reuse the existing ones and add new ones as needed to reach new accessories, etc.

If this is a permanent layout. I used a 14ga buss with suitcase connectors and 14 guage feeders soldered directly to the tabs under the fastrack. Best thing I ever did. I've never had a voltage drop issue like those that pop up on the forum from time to time.

Feeders are roughly 10' apart, voltage is constant around the entire layout.

" No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car."

loaner10 posted:

I'm working on bench work now, but want plan for a busd line. I have read that 16 gauge stranded wire is best for the buss line and 18 gauge for drop downs. Also, I have several of the wired Lionel power tracks. Can they be wired directly into the buss line using suitcase connectors? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks Bill

It depends on the length of the layout - it should be wired to handle up to 10 amps of current safely. 

I do not care for 18awg for track wiring anywhere - accessories, depends on the load

Carl

Arctic Railroad

If you've used the pre-wired Lionel power tracks from a starter set, you know that they will handle the power over a short distance (generally 2 feet). These wires are, I would guess, 18 gauge or smaller. The voltage drop across 18 gauge is substantial but is okay for a short distance. So they make a good choice as feeders to the track.

For distances greater than 2 feet, I would recommend 16 gauge only to a distance of 8 to 10 feet. Beyond that, 14 gauge will work up to about 30 feet before the voltage drop becomes an issue. Using terminal blocks to distribute power allows you to change to a different gauge over a shorter distance; say transformer 14 gauge to terminal block, then 16 to the track feeders at 18 gauge.

Think of it like the blood flowing in your body. The vessels closest to the power source (the heart) are larger than the ones in the extremities.

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